LIFESTYLE Travel & Food  >  The Best of Aruba, Part 1

The Best of Aruba, Part 1

The Best of Aruba, Part 1
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BY SUSAN HORNIK

Off the coast of South America, you will find Aruba, a Dutch-owned Caribbean island renowned for its immaculate stretches of white sand beaches and strikingly beautiful turquoise seas. Located outside the Hurricane Belt, with constant cooling trade winds, Aruba has more sunny days than any other Caribbean island. With more than 90 nationalities now on the island, Aruba has become the epicenter of a cultural mosaic. Dutch and Papiamento are Aruba’s official languages​​, but most Arubans speak at least four languages​​, including English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Beyond the turquoise waters and sun-kissed, sandy shores exists the real Aruba – where natural bridges, caves, rugged desert, thriving culture, 90+ culinary influences and countless other hidden gems await visitors’ discovery. And for many, spending tranquil days basking and relaxing in the unending sunshine is the highlight of their Aruba vacation. But beyond the beaches, adventure-seekers will discover one happy island full of invigorating land and sea activities. From underwater exploration to rugged and wild excursions through Arikok National Park, there is no shortage of action.

Antilla Wreck
Known as the “ghost ship” and the largest shipwreck dive in the caribbean, the Antilla is a 400-foot-long German freighter built in 1939, used by the Germans to supply their subs during World War II. Scuttled in 1945 to prevent Dutch marines from seizing it, it now rests on its port side only 500 yards offshore and 60 feet below the surface, illuminated at night by fluorescent cup-corals. Explore its compartments, anchors, cargo holds and boiler rooms.

Arashi Beach
Tucked away from the masses and protected from development, Arashi Beach is the ideal snorkeling and swimming locale. A 10-minute walk from Malmok Beach on the winding road that leads to the California Lighthouse, this narrow stretch of beach is a favorite with locals, offering gentle currents, sandbars, vibrant marine life and several makeshift huts to host a barbecue cookout.

Aruhiba Tabaco Farm
Featuring hand-rolled premium cigars and cigar accessories, Aruhiba Cigars are the only handmade cigars offered on the island. Similar to a Cuban cigar, Aruhiba Tabaco is farmed locally on the island and is sold at the Aruhiba Cigar shop in front of the historic Dutch windmill near The Westin Aruba in Palm Beach. Cigar aficionados can check out the daily Aruhiba Tabaco farm tours or indulge in a private cigar rolling class.

Balashi Gold Mill Ruins
Built at the tip of the Spanish Lagoon across from The Frenchman Pass, the once bustling Balashi Gold Mill turned into a ghost town in 1985 with the shutdown of the island’s gold refinery. The remains of the mill still exist and the grounds are also famous for being “haunted.”

Black Stone Beach
Lined with tiny, shimmery black stones, Black Stone Beach is Aruba’s only beach boasting “black sand.” Located close to three newly forming natural bridges in Arikok National Park, Black Stone Beach lends itself to an ideal quaint picnic spot.

Boca Catalina
Beyond Palm Beach, visitors can follow the beach road to discover a hidden local favorite, Boca Catalina and Catalina Cove, where locals gather and fire up their grills for a sunset barbeque. As one of the island’s hot spots for fishing given its shallow water, Boca Catalina brings families together to enjoy its sandy white, pebbled beaches and catch of the day.

Yamanota
Offering a birds-eye view at 620 feet, hikers discover sheer serenity atop Yamanota, the island’s highest elevation point granting panoramic views worth remembering. Picturesque contours of the northern and southern shores are captured from a single vantage point, offer picture-perfect moments.

Zeerover’s
Located in the sleepy fishing town of Savaneta, Zeerover’s is a fisherman’s wharf promising heavy local flare. Locals line up at the window to buy fresh caught fish or order the deep fried catch of the day – barracuda, mahi mahi, shrimp and more – tossed in a big plastic bowl with homemade fries, plantains and pan bati. Those who choose to stay awhile on the waterside deck enjoy fresh breezes, fish fry aromas and a cold Balashi beer, as they crank up the jukebox to hear vibrant Caribbean calypso beats and watch fisherman cart their catch by the net full.

 

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